When the old Supreme Court building opened up to visitors a few years ago before moving to its new premises, we went for one last look, worried that the building would be designated for the wrecking ball. We should have known that such a beautiful building with such a rich history would never face such a fate.
Special note: It was at this very building that the Japanese army surrendered in 1945 after 3 years of rule in Singapore. Also, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was sworn into office as Prime Minister here in 1959.
Today it is home to the National Gallery of Singapore and is filled with, well, lots of stuff I suppose. I’m not quite sure because when we visited, we went straight to the Keppel Centre for Art Education and got sucked into it for 5 hours. Five. The kids didn’t give me a chance to see anything else. But it was a whole lot of fun – we were there for 2.5 hours in the morning, then went for lunch, and back again for “ten more minutes” that morphed into a further 2.5 hours.
When I hear the word “corridor”, I think of a place that we walk through without stopping. But the Art Corridor is something else altogether. It’s so colourful and happy looking that you can’t not stop. Particularly if you have young ones that like noise. And colour. And dropping things.
Giving visitors the opportunity to play and discover through colour and Physics, this was almost like a Science Centre-ish kind of exhibit, and the little ones loved it.
But it was the Art Playscape that we spent the most time in. We nicknamed it the “enchanted forest”. There were hallows in trees to hide in (warning: adults are welcome but do watch your head!), tree houses to explore, and lots of little nooks to hide in. Thus, the game of hide-and-seek/chasey was developed among all the kids. Which explains the length of time we spent here.
It’s got a no-shoes rule which was great because everything was kept clean. But truth be told, some areas smelt a little funky. There are activity sheets that you can get from the counters so do take them; they’re great for meal time entertainment.
The Children’s Museum room was nothing like a museum at all. There were lots of Magnatiles to play with (on light tables, no less!), a cosy reading corner with a small number of books, but the winner of that room was the little cardboard boxes that kids could build castles with.
At Project Gallery, you can buy little project/activity kits and create your own flying bus and boats in the sky, but I’m a seasoned parent, and I know that buying these kits only means that they’ll be done in a short time (or left incomplete), and I’ll be the one left holding two little cardboard structures. So we smiled and said no thanks and moved on.
We really enjoyed the Keppel Centre for Art Education – its aim is to offer a dynamic environment to stimulate creativity in children, but if you miss the point, just take it as a fun and free way to spend an afternoon. Your kids won’t mind.
The entrance is located at the side of the building, facing St Andrew’s Cathedral (which we visited just before! You can read about it here). From the main entrance, the Keppel Centre for Art Education is on the left, just after the souvenir shop. Keppel Centre for Art Education is located on Level 1, at the City Hall Wing.
If you have the time, or if the kids let you, do visit the (former) Supreme Court building – some of the court rooms as well as the original holding cells (two of the original 12) are still around and very well preserved. There are also tours that you can follow for free. Registration opens 20 minutes before the tours begin, on a first come first served basis. Find out more here. This list from The New Paper also shares ten interesting things about National Gallery that you can look out for.
Everyone else I know who’s been says it’s awesome with wonderful exhibitions. That means that I will have to return once more, sans kids. Here‘s a list of all the awesome exhibits.
The National Gallery of Singapore is located at 1 Andrew Road. Opening hours: Daily from 10am to 7pm, and late closures at 10pm on Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays. The closest MRT station is City Hall. Non Singaporeans pay $20 for admission; it is free for Singaporeans and PRs.
If you’re visiting on the weekend of 11-12 June, check out Common Grounds, lots of performances, activities and fun awaits!
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